Sixers to Raise Awareness For Celiac Disease

The Philadelphia 76ers will raise awareness for Celiac disease when the team hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Wachovia Center on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

The team will further the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)’s mission of raising awareness and funding for Celiac disease with special gluten-free foods available throughout the game, as well as public service announcements informing fans of the dangers of the disease.

In addition to in-game awareness and information booths on the concourse on April 10, the Sixers will honor Larry and Bethann Kagan with the team’s Hometown Hero Award for their tireless dedication to raising awareness of Celiac disease.

Both have been dedicated volunteers and loyal supporters of NFCA since its founding in 2003. In conjunction with, the Kagans created an online director listing of restaurants that provide local and visiting Celiacs with information on establishments that cater to diners with special dietary needs.

At the Sixers game, there will also be gluten-free food available for sampling and for purchase. Gluten-free beer will also be available for purchase at the game.

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.

Recognizing Celiac disease can be difficult because some of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. Celiac disease can be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, iron-deficiency anemia caused by menstrual blood loss, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, intestinal infections, and chronic fatigue syndrome. As a result, celiac disease has long been under diagnosed or misdiagnosed. As doctors become more aware of the many varied symptoms of the disease and reliable blood tests become more available, diagnosis rates are increasing.

Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider, who is a member of the NFCA Board of Directors, suffers from Celiac disease and is excited about the opportunity to help generate awareness about the Celiac Disease during the Sixers game.

“It is the goal of the NFCA to help educate as many doctors, chefs and members of the media so that the millions of people with celiac disease who are suffering needlessly can be diagnosed and reclaim their lives,” said Snider. “Through the Sixers game, we have a tremendous opportunity to promote awareness through in-game exposure, as well as on our broadcasts. For those of us who suffer from Celiac, this is an important mission of ours - to help inform everyone about the dangers of Celiac Disease.”

“It is estimated by the NIH that 1 in 133 people in the United States has celiac disease,” said NFCA Executive Director Alice Bast. “Of these 3 million, only 150,000 have been diagnosed to date.  Due to lack of awareness, the average time for diagnosis in the United States is an appalling ten years, a length of time that NFCA seeks to reduce drastically.”

NFCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for celiac disease that will facilitate research, education and screening amongst medical professionals, children and adults. Visit or call 215-325-1306 for further information.

Tickets to the Sixers game vs. Cleveland on Friday, April 10, and against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, April 14, both at the Wachovia Center, are available exclusively through ComcastTIX at or by calling 1-800-298-4200.

Individual first round playoff home games at the Wachovia Center will go on sale on Wednesday, April 8 at 10 a.m. at the same locations.

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